New Audiovisual Directive: First Reading in EU Parliament completed

By EDRi · December 20, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

On 13 December 2006, exactly one year after the presentation of the revised
directive by the Commission, the European Parliament’s Plenary voted on a
report on the draft Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) that was
prepared by the Parliament’s Committee for Culture and Education.

In December 2005, the Commission proposed a set of new rules for television
regulation to bring it into line with new developments in audiovisual
technology and advertising. The new directive will amend the 1989
“Television without Frontiers” Directive, which was last revised in 1997,
and include, inter alia, new rules on advertising and the extension of the
directive to more audiovisual services than just ‘classic’ on-air
television. The proposal widened the scope of the directive also to ‘non
linear audiovisual media services’, i.e. on demand services, also on the

Parliament now amended the Commission proposal in first reading. The main
focus clearly laid on provisions regarding product placement and advertising
which were controversial enough. Definitions regarding the scope, namely of
linear and non-linear services were only slightly clarified by the
Parliament, despite concerns of many interest groups as well as some MEPs.

The EP vote also backed up the Commission proposal that those non-TV
audiovisual services, including so-called non-linear or on-demand services,
will be made subject to some basic content regulation.

After the Parliament’s first reading under the co-decision procedure, it is
now again the Council’s turn. While having agreed on a preliminary
compromise, the so called General Approach, on 13 November 2006, the Member
States will be working on a Common Position under the German Presidency as
from January 2007.

After that, the draft legislation will be sent back to the Parliament for
the second reading. This will give interest groups once again some – though
small- room for manoeuvre. The Common Position adopted by the Council will
become the new and only basis for discussion in a second reading. Amendments
may only relate to parts of the text which have already been subject of
amendments for the first reading.

In addition, a three-month time limit is laid down by the Treaty for the
Parliament to take action. Therefore the draft can be expected to be adopted
by both the EP and the Council still under German Presidency. Once adopted,
Member States will have two years to transpose the new directive into
national law.

AVMS Directive – Text adopted by the European Parliament (13.12.2006)

MEPs set new rules on TV commercials and product placement (13.12.2006)

Council of the European Union General Approach (13.11.2006)

(Contribution by Angelika Wessels, legal consultant, EU affairs)